Texting can be a convenient and flirty way to get to know your match during the early phases of dating.
It can also be an instrument of torture. The reason: Your match might seem perfectly content to text forever and never get around to asking you on a date. That means weeks (and maybe even months) of a seemingly endless exchange of “Good morning” and “Happy Tuesday!” and “Top three romantic comedies … Go!”
Of course, you want to seem fun and friendly so you play along. And you’re hoping that your participation eventually turns into a date. “Surely this can’t keep going on and on,” you tell yourself. “He will want to meet at some point, right?”
I’m here to tell you that it can go on and on – beyond your wildest imagination. It’s not just a source of temporary annoyance, either. This prolonged texting threatens to hurt your dating life in two important ways:
1) You will become so frustrated that you eventually lose interest. (This is a particular burn if you feel you’ve already invested a lot of texting time.)
2) Your texting exchange will develop a life of its own, and you risk developing a false impression of who you think your match is, which usually doesn’t quite measure up in real life.
The general rule of online dating is that you want to meet as soon as possible. Emailing, texting, and calling are tools to develop a basic rapport so you feel comfortable enough to sit across a table from someone and share a beverage in real life.
Ideally, you might text for a few days – a week tops – until one of you suggests meeting.
Still, some people just seem to love texting. (I’m speaking as a woman who’s fielded many complaints from women who want to follow traditional dating roles and be asked out by a man.) “Why do guys love texting so much?” they ask.
Like most women, I have no idea! Well, okay, I’m guessing there are three main reasons:
1) They’re busy and keeping you on the line
They’re staying in touch because they’re not available to see you right now. However, they don’t want to miss out on the possibility they might want to see you in the near future. Perhaps they’re traveling or dealing with a family, work or health situation and aren’t ready to meet up. And this probably happens more often than we’d like to think: They’re dating someone else and want to see how it goes before stopping contact altogether with you.
2) They’re not sure they like you
They’re using texting to see if there’s chemistry. (This is a bad idea, I know! Some people just aren’t that good at texting, so it’s not a fair test.) Besides, the real danger is that you get irritated and go flat and start supplying terse answers – and kill off any potential romance before it even starts.
3) They’re not sure you like them
Some guys are insecure and are seeking enough positive feedback to gain enough confidence to date you. This doesn’t make sense, either. The fact that you’ve answered the last 20 texts means you’re interested, right? How much more encouragement can you provide?
However, you are not helpless!
Here are three techniques to end your texting hell:
1) Drop hints
The formula is simple: Flatter the texter. Suggest answering in real life. Example: “That’s a great question about movies. I’d love to tell you all about my favorite movies over a beer.”
2) Set some boundaries
Stop the madness early. Example: “I’m not much of a texter, but it would be fun to get to know you. Lemme know if you’re interested in chatting on the phone or meeting up sometime.”
3) Ask them out
Often times, direct is best. You’ll save your time and sanity. Example: “You sound like a lot of fun. Would you like to meet up IRL?”
About the Author:
Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate, and Salon.